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Candlelight Vigils Become Anti-Gov’t Protest

Posted June. 27, 2008 03:14,   


The nature and pattern of candlelight vigils against the resumption of U.S. beef imports are likely to target the Lee Myung-bak administration and become more violent as the government posted the new import condition of U.S. beef on its gazette Thursday.

The People`s Association for Measures Against Mad Cow Disease held a press conference on the same day and said, “Now we cannot help but hold a public discussion on the ousting of the administration. We are ready to launch a campaign to topple the administration.”

The association said, “There should be an official decision-making process, but the campaign will be in the direction of refusal and noncompliance with the government action. We’ll hold the weekend candlelight vigils to against the official announcement of U.S. beef import conditions and for the judgment of the Lee Myung-bak administration”

The association is planning to demand the withdrawal of the announcement at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Gyeongbok Palace subway station and Gwanghwamun, Seoul.

Meanwhile, there are increasing voices on “Agora,” the debate bulletin of Daum, saying that protestors should break away from the non-violence principle.

An Internet user said in his posting, “We’ve stuck to the non-violence principle over the past two months only to see the government announce the new import standards. We should show that we can use even iron pipes and Molotov cocktails, if necessary.”

Against this backdrop, Agora held a vote on the day as to whether “(protestors) should use iron pipes and baseball bats for self-defense.”

Some opinions against violent protests were posted on the bulletin, but those who support the use of force outnumbered those who oppose by three times.

This change in attitude was already seen in the rally held on Wednesday night, when the government disclosed its plan to post the new import standards on its gazette.

Leaders of the protesters who were on vehicles with broadcasting systems repeatedly chanted the slogan, “Now it is a war,” through their microphones on that day.

Under these circumstances, some protestors clashed with police by using wooden sticks and stones. In the process, a large number of protestors and police were wounded.

Police arrested 139 protestors, including Ahn Jin-geol, a leading member of the association, in the rally that continued until Thursday morning.

National Police Agency Chief Eoh Chung-soo, for his part, sent a letter requesting cooperation for a peaceful demonstration to the association.